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Public Assistance Through FEMA

Banner image of COVID-19 social distancing advice and safety measures

By: Jason Jantzi, Risk Management Consultant - Fire | | 503-559-0389

As we move into the weeks ahead, there will be an expected financial burden for all local government members.  As providers of essential services, many SDAO members cannot close their doors to the public and may have increased expenditures through additional staffing and PPE supplies.  One of the ways SDAO members can be financially proactive is to begin the process of applying for FEMA funds that have been made available by the Trump Administration.  On March 29, 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued a statement on the federal disaster declaration for Oregon; this is the relevant part for SDAO members to think about. 

Today's Major Disaster Declaration by President Trump for the State of Oregon, retroactive to January 20, 2020, allows for the activation of FEMA’s Public Assistance program for reimbursements of emergency actions taken by state, territorial, tribal, and local government entities, as well as certain non-profit organizations.

Organizations eligible for recovery efforts on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety;
  • Emergency operation and coordination costs;
  • Disinfection of eligible public facilities;
  • Medical sheltering;
  • Purchase and distribution of food, water, medicine and other consumable supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment.

Many of you have reached out over the past month to ask if funds are available for these types of activities through SDIS. Because these federal funds have been made available, SDIS believes that its most important function during this crisis is to make sure that it has the resources to pay the workers' compensation claims of our emergency services providers and other frontline special district employees that are putting their lives on the line every day.  As the SDIS pool is made up of public entities, our members fortunately have the ability to access FEMA funds in ways that the private sector insureds cannot. 

On the SDAO COVID-19 FEMA webpage, there are links to the FEMA documents your district should review related to accessing these recovery funds.  Also, you will want to be in discussion with your local county emergency management office as the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is helping coordinate these FEMA funds.  These discussions between local government organizations are important in many ways outside of funding.   Many of you have resources that the county emergency managers need to know about and vice versa.  So always keep these lines of communication open.  We are all working together to make this work out.